• Jun 2, 2008
How do you make a muscle car appear more fuel-efficient? According to Ford's North American design director, Peter Horbury, you make it look smaller. In an interview with Automotive News, Horbury said that the Mustang, "... is more suitable for the times than the [Dodge] Challenger and [Chevy] Camaro." By "times" we're assuming Horbury is implying that big muscle cars will become less popular due to rising fuel prices and that vehicles like the Challenger and Camaro will endure much of the same wrath that SUVs have garnered in the last few years.

While the Camaro concept is 1.4-inches shorter and 5.7-inches wider than the Mustang, the Challenger overshadows Ford's pony car in length by over ten inches. Whether those facts will have any effect on the buying public is open to debate, but appearances are just that, and a focus on weight reduction and more fuel-efficient drivetrains would seem to be a better solution than making the 2010 Mustang, which will share the same dimensions as the current model, appear to be the smarter choice.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]


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  • 48 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      V8 Mustang II is a great car. People need to accept that by the time they introduced the 302, the gas crisis was in full effect and the horsepower wars were over. It does not share much with the pinto ( http://mustangii.net/questions.asp ) and had some incredible improvements in both comfort and handling.

      I love my T-Top 302 1977 Cobra II.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Mustang II was certainly more of a "Mustang" than the horrible FWD Probe of the 1980s and 1990s.

        At least FoMoCo didn't just up and quit as Chrysler did with its 1970s pony cars.

        And I'm glad you and others are preserving Mustang IIs.

        But . . . (you knew there'd be a but)

        Objectively, the Mustang II was more evidence that Iacocca and his team had "lost it" by the time the 1970s rolled around.

        The Mustang II didn't have the same balanced proportions of the original. It's almost like a cartoon version. The wheels and tires were too small. The grille and taillamps were way too big. The wheelbase too short. The overhangs too long. The 5-mph bumpers were too "hung on" looking (unlike GM's Camaro, Firebird, Monza, Starfire, Skyhawk . . .)

        Cutting the V8 in '74 was a gross overreaction and miscalculation (That we're probably doomed to repeat at some point). The 1975-78 II's 302 V8 was grossly underpowered and did not include enough of the "building blocks" necessary to become a homebuilt performance icon (unlike the later 5.0).

        If the II merely applied what FoMoCo had learned aerodynamically in developing the Torino Talladega, used a reasonable performance tire size, and at least stayed on par with GM's F-body and Corvette in power-to-weight and performance equipment (i.e. optional shaker scoop, forged rotating assembly, decent cylinder heads, four-bolt mains, etc.), the downsized Mustang II would be more celebrated.

        Had the Mustang II actually advanced the art and science of efficient, affordable automobility (i.e. turbocharging, fuel injection, overhead cam V8, multivalve heads), it would have likely been legendary.

        Instead, the Mustang II is emblematic of FoMoCo's ill-fated abandonment of racing and "Total Performance" in favor of Iacocca's "Total Poseur."

        (Don't worry, if you missed it the first time, CAFE will probably bring this sad era back)

        But at least it was RWD and had a double wishbone front suspension.

        FINALLY, another thing the current Mustang does not need: a flimsy IRS (unless it can be deleted for serious performance work)
      • 6 Years Ago
      ......the re-release of the Mustang II.
      • 6 Years Ago
      How about actually more efficient.

      The new 2.5 I4 engine + ZF 6hp21 transmisson is a good start.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Traditionalists don't much like the idea of a V6 Mustang, either, but they're obviously not going to sell the thing with an Eight only.

        Might as well stick a fizzy, clean-running Four in there for the 85% of Mustang buyers whose interest begins and ends with styling. Subjectively, it could hardly be worse than the current truck V6.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Good point Mike for the I4 2.5L and with the Ecoboost turbo version maybe we could imagine a modern reincarnation of the SVO

        Then as I mentionned in a previous post, the folks of Diesel Power magazine go even to a further step extreme
        http://www.dieselpowermag.com/news/0803dp_diesel_transformation/page_2.html then I decide to quote

        "...Ford Mustang GT500Lion 5.0L Twin-Turbo V-8
        If the dodge viper and audi r8 are "halo" cars that get people into dealerships to buy other cars, then the ford Mustang is an icon because it gets people excited about the blue Oval brand, and the sales actually help the company's bottom line. It would be interesting to see a Mustang Gt500 equipped with the ultra-modern Lion v-8 twin-turbo diesel that's being used overseas. It's got a CGI block, twin variable geometry turbos, common-rail fueling, piezo injectors, and could be stroked out to 5.0L (just for sentimental reasons). In the 4.4L configuration, the Lion is rated at 350 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque (20 lb-ft more than the supercharged 4.6L gasser), so it's fun to imagine, at the twist of a button another 100 lb-ft of torque, or economy-car fuel mileage is available..."

        (the Lion name is the nickname given to the Ford-Peugeot European diesel V6 and V8 family engines http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_AJD-V6_engine )
        • 6 Years Ago
        Right, but I mean the muscle-car traditionalists, the ones who wax nostalgic about the '60s V8 horsepower wars and ignore the fact that most muscle/pony cars sold were base-model commuters.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Wasn't it only 10 years ago that Ford upped the V6 to 190hp from 150hp. (with 4 speed auto)

        So a modern six speed automatic and a 175hp 2.5 I4 (rig up a dual muffler rear setup) would outperform a decade old 'entry level' model.
        • 6 Years Ago
        "Traditionalists don't much like the idea of a V6 Mustang"

        Most original Mustangs came with a 6 banger so I don't know how much more traditional you can get. The 6 banger gen 1 F bodies sold more than the V8s as well.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Putting a 4 banger into a mustang?
        I'm sure their new engine is a ton better (smoother, produces more power, etc) than what's being used for the base 6cyl model, but I don't think people would go for 'just 4'

        I don't want to jump to the redneck image the Mustang has, especially at $17k (base model - bonuses) but, it's always there.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Well, the Mustang largely sells on it's retro-looks, and performance look anyway, so it's not like we should be entirely surprised that Ford expects the target audience to buy into it looking fuel efficient.
      It's not like the base Mustang is actually a high performance car, but people buy it for it's looks anyway, so maybe those same people will buy it because it looks efficient whether or not it actually is.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Meanwhile, as Detroit attempts to make its sports cars "appear" smaller, I'll be enjoying my MINI Cooper S, which packs performance and razor-sharp handling into a package that really *is* smaller (and more fuel efficient). No optical illusions necessary.

      America needs its own version of the MINI.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The MINI and the Mustang are comparable cars how???

        It may shock some, but most who buy Mustangs know that there are more "practical" cars out there and flat out don't care.
        • 6 Years Ago
        And the Mustang's is roomier...?
        • 6 Years Ago
        The best part about the mini is that the back seat has just enough room for your purse.
      • 6 Years Ago
      yeah, make it look like crap AND handle like crap and you'll have a winner
        • 6 Years Ago
        ^^^ Ford is already expert on both of those.

        Sorry, Mustang performance just isn't much to write home about.

        The looks are improved over the last 3 generations, but I'm still not won over by any plastic muscle-car. No matter what color plastic they use, they will never look as good as the original.

        So I agree, let the retro remain legend, and build something light and aerodynamic with good handling. Camero, Mustang, Challenger all FAIL.
      • 6 Years Ago
      ...will endure much of the same wrath that SUVs have garnered in the last few years."

      Ah, no. Cars, even sporty cars painted a retina burning red are still cars. They blend in with the herd. The suvs standout like barns. It's easy to focus your attention on something unnatural and out of place.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have an 06 GT, the performance is spectatular for it's cost and it's a car you can live with every day including MPG. It's a perfect blend. To question Ford on the Mustang is to question Warren Buffet on investing.
      • 6 Years Ago
      ..all I can think of is Buick Grand National.

      No, they didn't get great gas mileage, but that's also a 22 year old car (wow, that's scary). I would think a 3500 pound (or less) V6 turbo car would sell well and get good mileage.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Let's not forget just how small the original Mustang was. Maybe shrinking it a bit could be considered a nostalgic design route? Even the current design makes the car seem a lot larger than it actually is, and the V8 gets about 27 mpg on a good interstate.

      There is no reason that the V6 could not/should not be replaced with an EcoBoost four banger. The girls that buy V6s won't no the difference, and the guys that drive them will feel insecure no matter if its a 6 or a 4, haha.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So the Camaro will actually BE smaller and more fuel efficiant than the Mustang, but Ford design voodoo will fool us into thinking it's not? I seriously doubt that.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Regardless of it's size, the Camaro (and we're abstracting, based on the G8's four thousand pound weight and the fact that coupes don't usually weigh any less than their sedan siblings) will tip the scales at a lot more (~500lbs or so) than the current Mustang.

        That's a huge different. If Ford is sensible, they'll work this advantage, keeping the Mustang's mass down well below the Camaro's. It'll play to the reviewers (everyone likes light cars over ponderous ones), negate the likely power deficit they'll face and help fuel economy.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I would much rather see a Mercury Cougar RWD variant to take on Genesis and G37...

        Ford Probe was great, I had a 93 GT once... But it was FWD, and would likely be again. That was the downfall of an otherwise quite good car.

        A future Probe GT, or whatever else they would call it would likely be a coupe variant of Fusion/Milan/6...

        I'd rather see the S197 get trimmed down, gain IRS, and remain RWD, and get a sleek new shape in Mercury Cougar form.

        The Mustang is a big car... If it would lose some bulk, it could lose some weight. The length and width aren't attrocious. The height of the body lines and "bulk" of the car is a bit much, and a trimmer bodystyle and new materials could lighten things a tad bit.

        Duratech 3.5 or a variant of it, EcoBoost turbocharged Direct injected variant, and V8s make good sense, and all will be more efficient in a lighter, and more aerodynamic car.
        • 6 Years Ago
        on 2nd thought, a new EXP to compete with the upcoming CRZ. hybrid powertrain on an escort or Fiesta platform, with a decent body and Ford would have a winner. Iguess an EXP would be on the Fiesta and Probe on the Escort these days

        of course, getting Ford US to come up with a progressive body form is what kills the potential. Fusion and Edge are nice but nothing earth-shaking.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agree it is time for a new Probe. Maybe something off the great Mazda 3 platform.
          • 6 Years Ago
          @Xcountryflyer: You mean something like the *cough cough* Euro Ford Focus?
        • 6 Years Ago
        @geo.stewart

        I'm thinking the production version won't be as wide as the concept, but I guess that's an unknown for now. The ugly fat girl of the group will be the Challenger. That's for sure.

        Totally agree with the Probe comment. It was a great car in GT form.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just another example of how U.S. automakers are out of step with the reality of what the market actually demands (better fuel economy). Rather than actually MAKE the next Mustang smaller - thus lighter and more fuel efficient - Ford has decided to make the car LOOK smaller. I can just hear some exec at Ford saying, "Let's fool the public into thinking our car is meeting market demands better than our competition by making it look like it is!" Let's see how Ford's advertising pulls that wool over our eyes(!).
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